How to source the right VoIP system – and supplier for your business
The process of selecting and sourcing a VoIP solution for your business, along with a competent supplier to install and deploy it, can be a complex and potentially confusing process.
Buyers need to understand what to look for and what questions to ask. Only then can they be confident of being armed with the necessary information to an intelligent choice that takes into account the ROI, performance, features, value and efficiency of their selected VoIP system.
- Selecting a VoIP solution and supplier for your business can be complex and confusing, so it’s essential to understand what to look for and the questions to ask.
- VoIP offers several benefits, including reduced telecom costs, flexibility, worker efficiency, easy scalability and unified communications.
- VoIP allows remote workers to route business calls to their mobile devices, enhancing worker efficiency and flexibility.
- As your business grows, VoIP systems can easily adapt to changing telecommunications needs, enabling the activation of additional features when required.
- VoIP systems simplify communication by combining different channels (e.g., voice calls, video calls, instant messaging, emails) into a single platform.
- When selecting a VoIP service provider, consider factors such as call rates, call quality, service level agreements, compatibility, cybersecurity and the support package.
What’s needed is a shortcut; an intelligent “heads up” on the key benefits and features they might need, and the supplier characteristics they should look out for.
In our Buyers Guide to VoIP we explain what to look for, how to choose the right features for your business and the criteria to use when selecting a provider.
What are the main benefits of VoIP?
If your business already has a reliable internet connection, virtually any VoIP system can operate over that existing infrastructure. The minimum speed demands vary depending on the number of handsets likely to be in use at any one time, but the basic rule is that an allowance of 100 kbps per handset is sufficient. Of course, this is in addition to all other internet usage, so a bandwidth of 20 Mb/s will be more than capable of handling the demands of VoIP in an average sized business.
The key benefits of VoIP for most organisations include the following:
Reduced telecom costs
Ongoing telecommunications costs can be reduced by the fact that there’s no need for dedicated phone lines. Yes, you’ll still need an internet connection, but once in place there are no charges for VoIP calls made between branch sites or to VoIP-enabled remote workers.
The system as a whole can be expanded, reduced or altered via new capacity or hardware quickly and easily.
Whether hosted on your premises or in the cloud, a VoIP (also called an IP PBX) system will almost always be configured and managed via a web interface.
As well as simple VoIP calls between users, the system will be able to offer call forwarding and transferring, the ability to set up number-based call groups, voice conferencing, and a host of other features configured to exactly meet your business demands.
Your provider will be able to advise whether cloud or on-site hosting is best suited to your circumstances and the features you require – and then perform the necessary installation and deployment.
Worker efficiency through mobility
VoIP enables remote workers to have any calls to their business number routed to their mobile while they are away from the office, and some systems allow users to log on via any handset.
As your business grows and its needs evolve, your telecommunications requirements are likely to change as well. The good news is that additional features which you may not have enabled to begin with will probably be supported by your VoIP system, so can easily be enabled as soon as you need them.
Improved customer care
An unanswered phone is one of the things most likely to put customers off dealing with your business. A VoIP system can be tailored so that incoming calls are routed around your business exactly as you want them, so no call goes unanswered.
Less to maintain and train with unified communications
Utilising a VoIP system offers you the opportunity to combine all your communication channels into the same platform. This makes it simple for employees to learn their way around the various different forms of communication (e.g. voice calls, video calls, instant messaging and emails) and also makes the system as a whole more simple to maintain.
Collaboration and sales with video conferencing and web meetings
Distributed workforces mean that video conferencing is a vital part of many modern businesses.
Few things convey a sales pitch, demonstration or presentation more powerfully than a one-to-one interaction. A good VoIP system can make that possible without the expense and inconvenience of a dedicated web demo platform.
What you need to move to VoIP
A reliable internet connection
‘Reliable’ in this case means a connection which has high availability and decent bandwidth. Your provider should set specific service parameters, but if these parameters aren’t good enough or aren’t being met, then you may have to look elsewhere.
Each extension or desktop will need a handset. The features needed for each handset will differ depending upon the role of the end user.
For example, although virtually all VoIP handsets will offer basic features such as call parking, call transfer and conference calling, sales teams may require a phone which also supports video conferencing.
A VoIP service provider
Having everything provided, configured and managed by a single provider is the simplest and fastest way to get your business set up with VoIP.
Finding the right provider means asking the right questions:
- What will rates look like and how do these compare to existing call costs?
- Is it worth investing more in set up and hardware costs to keep the rates lower in the future?
- What kind of call quality does the provider offer?
- Is a comprehensive service level agreement (SLA) provided, to underpin the reliability of what they provide?
- Can your VoIP service provider help you decide on the most appropriate system for your organisation’s current and future needs?
Before signing any agreement, take the time to ensure that the different technologies being used are all compatible. In particular, make sure that your handsets are compatible with the capabilities of your IP PBX, whether it’s on the premises or cloud hosted.
Don’t be afraid to ask your provider how seriously they take cyber security, and what steps they have in place to ensure that your VoIP system will be safe from hackers, both now and in the future.
How comprehensive and responsive is the support package offered by the provider? A pretty good rule of thumb is that the speed and accuracy with which they respond to your queries during deployment – or even while you’re still deciding which provider to use – should provide a guide to how they’ll respond to any future issues.